A Startup’s guide to hiring talents: Freelancers vs Agency
The internet has created many new possibilities in the world of marketing. Hiring new talents for a project is no longer a challenge. With services such as Fiverr and Upwork, companies now have the option to tap into freelance talents from all across the globe instead of being confined to the local talent pool. This is particularly advantageous to startups, who do not always have a huge working budget to engage agencies. So, that brings us to an important question. Should you be hiring freelancers or agencies? The answer is not linear and it is crucial to consider some factors before finding the right fit. Not sure where to begin? Here’s our startup guide to hiring talents!
(Freelancers or agencies? The debate continues.)
Here’s a quick overview of what you need to know first:
A freelancer is essentially self-employed and offers their professional services to clients. Almost every type of service can be provided by a freelancer nowadays and some common ones include marketing, design, coding and writing.
An agency is a company with skills covering various disciplines such as web design, marketing and development, hence providing one-stop tailored solutions to businesses.
So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of both and how can companies go about making that final decision?
Finding a freelancer best suited for your project takes time as everyone has a varied working style and specialization. Unless you have become acquainted via trusted word of mouth, it’s hard to determine if they would be able to meet the deliverables. With platforms such as Fiverr, not all freelancers can be verified for their services. Signing up as a freelancer on fiverr takes less than five minutes, so practically anyone could do so. To avoid such risks, businesses have to carefully vet reviews on each talent available and narrow down their search before being able to engage the right freelancer.
With an agency, businesses can save time by avoiding the vetting process as agencies have a professional team to take care of project requirements from the planning stage until the final execution. Agencies have a well-organised structure with various departments and skillsets that allows them to deliver timely professional reports and reviews. This gives clients peace of mind as they are given a clear insight into what works and what doesn’t, allowing them to make better-informed decisions with regards to the direction of the project. World famous agencies such as Ogilvy & Mather have ran campaigns for influential brands including KFC, Ikea and Coca-Cola.
(Time is key when it comes to hiring talents.)
Freelancing has now become mainstream. According to Fast Company, 3.7 million more people have started freelancing between 2014 and 2018 in the US and the number has seen a rise worldwide as well, due to technology and the accessibility it poses. Collaborative software such as Google Docs and Slack has made remote work easy. Many freelancers have an additional job and take up freelance projects due to flexibility and additional income. As such, they are generally not as involved or passionate about your work and this may be reflected in the quality of work submitted. Moreover, 70% of freelancers work on 2-4 projects at a time and the end goal is to simply complete the job. With various tasks and deadlines piling up, the work submitted could be rushed and not up to your expectations.
Agencies are more invested in your project as they have a reputation to uphold. Client satisfaction is crucial as it establishes the agency’s credibility for long-term relationships and brings about added visibility that attracts new clients. Agencies have a dedicated team of skilled professionals, including a project manager to take care of your needs until the completion of the project. In addition, there is a level of accountability that comes with engaging an agency as they are focused on getting the best results to ensure maximum Return-on-Investment is achieved. Due to the number of completed projects under their belt, they are more familiar with competition and quality standards.
One of the main reasons why startups look into hiring freelancers is the cost. You also do not have to worry about additional matters such as insurance or leave arrangements. Most individual freelancers set reasonable rates, based on the tasks and project length. Doing a quick search over freelancing platforms like Upwork and Fiverr would reveal that you can get a $5 starting rate for almost any service. With these websites, clients can even put out a bid on a project with rates that they are comfortable with. However, half-baked resources from low-cost labour could underperform and eventually put a strain to your budget when you have to fix the problem.
This is one of the most debatable comparisons when deciding to hire freelancers or agencies. An agency’s rate for a project is definitely higher compared to freelancers, as they have an entire team of skilled professionals dedicated to the project and also have to take into account factors such as office space and insurance when quoting. You may score the best price deal with freelancers, but not necessarily quality-wise. Furthermore, an agency manages the entire project for you so don’t have to source and manage individual freelancers. This may be a more cost-effective option depending on the complexity of the project.
(Identifying your budget for a project would help narrow down your options.)
Freelancers tend to have a flexible schedule and can work anywhere as long as there’s an internet connection and this is both an advantage and disadvantage as they may not necessarily be available when you urgently need them for revisions, due to other commitments. This could also be a problem when client and freelancer are based in different time zones. Moreover, it is highly unlikely to have face-to-face communication due to the remote work dynamic. This could lead to miscommunication with the project and potentially delay turnaround times as well.
Agencies are known for their periodic reviews and reporting, including frequent in-person meetings to update the client on the project status and timeline. The agency is also able to provide analytical reports, which allows clients to understand the achievement of their investment. Agencies are generally more transparent with their clients by sharing various Return on Investment (ROI) metrics such as conversion rates, email signups and traffic. This gives clients a certain level of ease as both parties are working towards the same goal.
(Face-to-Face communication is crucial to ensure the success of a project.)
As illustrated above, both options have their advantages and disadvantages and there isn’t a perfect option when it comes to hiring talents. Individual companies will have to identify their needs, priorities and budget to determine the best-suited option.
In conclusion, it is advisable that companies only use freelancing platforms such as Fiverr for jobs with extremely clear instructions to avoid risks of unsatisfactory work. Some good examples would be data entry and audio transcriptions, which are rather straightforward tasks. Otherwise, if it’s a job that you’re unfamiliar with and looking for in-depth advice and solution, freelancers may not be the best fit as they are job-oriented and will simply follow the brief.
That said, it is possible to find great freelancers on Fiverr, but that is only likely after a narrowed search to find the best candidate. This is extremely time-consuming and eventually not as cost-effective.